Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the economy

Yes, I am scared. I have a relatively secure job, but you just never know. I listen to the Nightly News every night, and I wonder if this is what the beginning of the Great Depression would have sounded like if had been broadcast every second of the day. That whole frog in the boiling water thing may be happenening precisely because we see every second of this unfolding each time we open a paper or turn on the television. Yes, it is frustrating that all of our taxpayer money was thrown at these banks with no accountability. Citibank just used a whole bunch of it to buy a corporate jet. You can understand this sentiment, then:

One of my credit card companies just raised my fixed 9.9% interest rate to 22.9%. When I contacted them, they told me they had slipped an "opt out" notice in my statement in November. I pay my bills online and hadn't opened the statement. I spoke with a supervisor, and she was a bitch to me, and she told me there was nothing I could do, that I couldn't go back in time. This cruel voice on the other end of the line is probably just another person wondering about the security of her own employment, a person who has been told to be as bitchy as possible, to keep as much interest flowing into that company as she can. I know it isn't her fault. It's the people we rarely see, the rich guy at the top who thinks nothing of buying a jet with taxpayer money, who thinks corporate jets are just the way people get around, who has no idea what it means to cut coupons, to scrounge up what you have and sell it on ebay, to wonder how you will pay to have the sewer line repaired on your home, even as this sewage has backed up into your yard for the 2nd time. To those on the top, I echo this sentiment. Why don't you just jump?

what frustration looks like

Yesterday, Elliott, Ben, and I were playing outside. Elliott is, let's face it, sort of a pain in the ass in that he is constantly screaming and hitting his head on the cement because he doesn't quite know what he wants out of life. Benjamin wants my undivided attention but I am usually on Elliott-watch so that he doesn't split his head open by jumping off of the playset. Because I couldn't play the game he wanted me to play, Benjamin decided to draw outside instead, and he drew a lovely picture of a big tree in our backyard. In his picture, one of the branches of the tree fell onto the ground. "Mommy, who knocked it down?" he asked. "I don't know. Who do you think?" I responded. He paused, thought for awhile, and said, "The gerbil." "The gerbil?" I confirmed. Did he know what a gerbil was? His forehead furrowed. "No! The gerbil." As soon as "gerbil" came out of his mouth again, he hit his lips with his hand. He was trying to say something else, but gerbil kept coming out. "Gerbil" he repeated, and hit himself again. He looked so sad and angry and he wouldn't stop hitting his mouth. It was horrible. I told him to come over to me and he folded himself into my arms and hugged me. It's okay, I said, sometimes you just have to practice to get it right. He just sighed deeply. His speech has come so far, but sometimes he still can't get the pronunciation just right, and kids at school don't understand him. Sometimes, rarely, I can't understand him, and this is the result. At that moment, Elliott flipped head first off his tricycle, and, again, started screaming. "Maybe it's time to go inside," I said. Ben nodded, leapt out of my lap, and told Elliott that our time was up, the sun was going down. Elliott screamed the whole way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

drama queen

How cold was Ben during his bath?

"My muscles are cold, Mom."

Friday, January 23, 2009

pretty drive and all

I'm in Morro Bay tonight, awaiting a journalism conference in the morning. I don't know anyone here, and after introducing myself in the lobby, it was quite clear that I would not be invited out to cocktails with the rest of the gang. I got odd stares, and "who are you?"s aplenty. I don't think it helped that I was disheveled from the drive, wearing flip flops, and generally unprofessional in appearance. That last sentence wasn't parallel. OH WELL. I did what anyone in my situation should do--I went and bought a carne asada burrito for dinner. It was good. This constitutes three consecutive days of poor food choices. The only movie I want to see on the pay per view is Changeling, but I think I'll wait to catch that one when I'm not 500 miles away from my children. On the radio on the way up, I kept hearing about that man in Belgium who went on a stabbing spree at a daycare, and I tried not to let it get to me. I'm always wanting silence, and here it is, and man do I miss the noise. My cell service doesn't work here either.

The drive up was gorgeous. Well, aside from the accidents. It was rainy today, and in Southern California, that means that people go skidding off the road left and right because they simply can't handle it. But the clouds, fog, and mist gave this silver glow to the ocean--it looked as though the light was coming from underneath. And of course, I forgot my camera. Out in the distance, I spotted the silhouettes of several oil rigs, but even they looked pretty out there in the fog. On the way up, I drove past a prison and various groups of farm workers hunched over crops of strawberries and grapes. Incarceration and back breaking work don't seem to belong right up against all of the natural beauty up here. It seems even crueler. Anyway, I'm here now, and it's gorgeous but I'm lonely and I can't even say good night to the kids. So I guess I'll read a book and try not to let the quiet creep me out. And, who knows? Maybe my fellow professors will think I'm cooler tomorrow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

worth the wait

One of the best parts of having a child for me is when they hug me. They don't have to, but they do, because they love me and want to be close to me. But Elliott hasn't really been interested in hugging, so when I try to hug him, he pushes away and squirms out of my arms so he can run away and throw himself on the ground and roll around. Because that's what he likes to do. But lately, after naps and after waking in the morning, he's been lying his head on my shoulder for whole minutes at a time. At first I thought it was just a fluke, but now he does it every time he wakes up. And it's awesome. After carrying him in and pushing him out of my body, after suffering sleep deprivation, after two years of endless screaming, he finally lets me know that he will endure physical contact with me, at least for a couple of minutes. Sadly, I will take what I can get.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

working from home

Thursdays are my "work from home" days. This could mean a variety of things. Here are some duties on these days: taking Ben to speech school, attending playdates, shipping things I sold on ebay, cleaning the house, posting lesson plans onto my online courses, responding to work emails and phone calls, making and going to doctor's appointments, etc. It's a busy, unfocused day. I'm having a hard time at work right now. I'm under a tremendous amount of stress and one person in particular is making my life stressful. Yet I am home trying to be a good mom and deal with that without letting it take over. So after a great amount of stress all day, I look over at Elliott, and he is scooting himself across the floor to stack some nesting blocks, which he has gotten very good at. He is trying to talk, and, in the middle of stacking his blocks, he says something sounding like momma and gives me a huge smile. This makes me smile, too, and erases everything at work. In just this week, Elliott has made huge strides. He's been hugging and kissing us and playing more with Ben, right now Diego is telling him to clap clap clap and he is clapping. This is huge for us.

Earlier today at the park, Ben had a playdate with his friends Anna, Zoe, and Isabelle from speech school. Isabelle's mom brought Chicken McNuggets to the park for everyone to share. In theory, I know that McNuggets are bad, but Ben, who eats the same exact foods day after day, except for his obligatory one bite of "something new," took a McNugget and ate the entire thing. Without gagging. I was so excited, I asked him if he wanted a Happy Meal after the park. With a toy! And a chocolate milk! And apples! (I snuck that one in.) He said, "Yay! McDonald's!" Yes, I know this should probably make me feel terrible, but for once, I agree. Yay, McDonald's. Your ingenious blend of fats and salts (with a healthy dose of peer pressure) have made my son eat something new, and like it. He ate four more McNuggets later, as well as one slice of apple.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

i wish i wish i wish

I'm happy where I live, and I love my job. I'm getting tenure next year. But man do I wish I could apply for this job: They give you a three bedroom house! In Australia! And all you have to do is blog about it! I can just picture Ryan, Elliott, Ben, and me snorkeling and swimming, and lying around in the sand. For sixth months. In Australia. Getting paid lots of money. It's killing me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

just one of many

Thank you, W., for the understatement of the year: "Clearly putting a 'mission accomplished' banner on an aircraft carrier was a mistake."


Saturday, January 10, 2009

worry, worry

We've been weaning Elliott from the bottle. He was doing great until he went back to daycare this week. There, he sees his cousin Cameron's bottle, and all the memories flood into his overstimulated little brain, and it is too much for him to handle. He does angry somersaults on the floor, steps on Cameron's torso, throws blocks and hard plastic toys over his shoulder that hit other children. He screams and screams. When I pick him up after work, I apologize a lot, but I feel frustrated because it isn't my fault either. I don't whisper in his ear, "Hey kid, can you be an a-hole at daycare today? That would be hilarious." I feel embarrassed, like I am doing something wrong. I don't know why he acts likes this. It's not just daycare; it's everywhere. At the Wild Animal Park, he tries to run past the posted warnings into the area where all those giraffes, gazelles, and LIONS live. He screams when we stop him. He throws his sippy cup forcefully onto the floor when he is done drinking. He slams his head into his high chair, crying out in pain, when he's done eating. I remember the first several months when I thought I had a calmer kid on my hands and I realize that I have nothing of the sort. That's fine, but what do I do about the fact that he isn't saying anything regularly, that he doesn't appear to care (or even respond, really) when I tell him "no?" How do we get him to learn, to speak, to interact better? It's especially painful when I see him around my friends' son, my sister's daughter, and the kids at the playground, who are all the same age or even much younger. I love this beautiful little boy, but I feel like such a crappy parent sometimes.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Ryan and I spent New Year's Eve watching Hancock, which we deeply regretted. We then watched the Carson Daly/Dick Clark coverage. Carson Daly is like a benign tumor; he sort of bugs you but he isn't really doing any harm. Dick Clark, on the other hand, made me very aware of my own mortality, instilling a fear in me for the coming year. Time to retire, Dick.

I usually suck at resolutions, especially ones involving weight loss, but here goes:

1. Complete a triathlon.
2. Set clearly defined boundaries and stick to them in all aspects of my life.
3. Lose 10 pounds.
4. Stop cussing in front of the kids. This will be very hard in, say, traffic.
5. Read more.

Ryan says New Year's resolutions are bullshit. We'll see what he thinks when I'm reading a book while I sprint my last laps of the triathlon in the pool, 10 lbs. lighter than I used to be, yelling "bananas" when the person in the lane next to me wins.